Wednesday, December 12, 2007

a great virtue - Moderation

The Way Wednesday
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From a fourth century Bishop and Doctor of the Church, we learn a lesson too easily forgotten. In our efforts to bring people to the Lord, we often times chase them away with our application of 'justice'. We apply the gospel in a legalistic manner instead tempering our message with moderation and compassion.

How many times do I hear stories of 'former' Christians who left the flock because of the misused 'rod & staff' of the shepherd? How many times have I applied a harsh word when a compassionate word was called for? Is there real justice in this world, or only in the next? How am I to be 'Christ' to others?
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Saint Ambrose (c.340-397), Bishop of Milan and Doctor of the Church
On Repentance, 1, 1 (SC 179)
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Go out to others in the same way as the Lord draws near to us

Moderation is surely the most beautiful of virtues… It is to this alone that the Church, bought at the price of the Lord’s blood, owes its expansion. It mirrors the heavenly gift of universal redemption… From this it follows that whoever would apply themselves to correcting the faults of their human weakness must bear with and, in some sense, carry this weakness on their own shoulders, not rejecting it. For we read that the shepherd in the Gospel carried the exhausted sheep, not that he abandoned it (Lk 15,5)… Indeed, moderation ought to temper justice. Otherwise, how could someone towards whom you show distaste – someone who might think himself to be an object of contempt towards his doctor rather than compassion – how could such a one come to you to be healed? That is why the Lord Jesus gave proof of his compassion towards us. What he wanted was to call us to himself and not send us flying in fear. Gentleness is the sign of his coming; his coming is marked by humility. Moreover, he has told us: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” So then, our
Lord Jesus brings comfort; he does not exclude or reject. And it is with good reason that he chose as his disciples men who, as faithful interpreters of the Lord’s will, would gather together the People of God rather than turn them away.
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Melody K said...

Thank you for the quote from St. Ambrose; it is indeed food for thought. He was a wise man and compassionate man.
Years ago I clipped this prayer, credited to St. Ambrose, out of our parish bulletin:
"Lord God, we can hope for others nothing better than the happiness we desire for ourselves. Therefore, I pray you, do not separate me after death from those I have tenderly loved on earth. Grant that where I am they may be with me, and that I may enjoy their presence in heaven after being so often deprived of it on earth. Lord God, I ask you to receive your beloved children immediately into your life-giving heart. After this brief life on earth, give them eternal happiness."

uncle jim said...

You are correct in noting St Ambros as a compassionate man. Thanks for sharing the prayer - I am going to copy / print it for use on a prayer card.

Adrienne said...

Uncle Jim - you state things so well that the most I can ever think to say to you is, Well Done!

Melody - that is a wonderful prayer. I'm going to copy it also. Thanks